Auwe! Make anu. It's pronounced ow-way mah-kay-ah-noo and means "alas, stiff and chilled," or more commonly, "it's freezing." At least it feels that way to weather wimps down on the coast where the yearly average temperature is in the mid-70s.
This week, low temperatures were big news on Oahu where TV weather girls and guys seldom have anything to talk about other than rain and wind. Tuesday, Honolulu International Airport reported a record low of 61 for the date. It was 58, another record for the date, in Hilo.
Chalk up another distinction for Maui. The low before dawn Tuesday was 61 at Kahului Airport and on Molokai. They were not records. Record lows recorded for this time of year range from a 55 recorded in 1967 and again in 1968 to a 53 in 1983.
The official all-time low temperature recorded at the airport on Maui was 48 degrees in 1969. Kihei was only 1 degree warmer. Available records don't indicate the date, but it was probably in February or March, historically the coldest months of the year. In February 1919, The Maui News reported a stream freezing in Olinda and ice found in the Keanae Gap.
There are folks on Maui who see temperatures in the 40s on a regular basis during what has become known as winter, the coldest of four seasons. Pre-contact Hawaiians knew only two seasons - the warm, mostly dry months (kau or kau wela) and colder, wetter months (ho'oilo).
Mauians who live or work up on the mountain are resigned to pulling on extra shirts, running up their electric bills with space heaters and burning wood in fireplaces and stoves. Resigned, but more than willing to talk about it.
"I don't like being hot," said a Kula resident Wednesday morning. "I lived in Kihei and moved to get away from the heat. Maybe I'm just getting older, but it seems to be getting colder." He was warming his hands on a cup of coffee and wearing at least three layers of shirts.
"We can look forward to the sun," I said. "It can be in the low 50s at 6 a.m. in the house and hit the low 80s by 1 p.m." Home sits at the 2,000-foot level of Haleakala. It has a number of windows facing west and an uninsulated tin roof - both good collectors of heat. Wednesday morning, the thermometer in the kitchen sat at 55 degrees, probably 5 degrees colder than it actually was. The more accurate digital thermometer was blank. It eats too many batteries.
"When I get to work, the temperature can be in 60s after the sun hits," the Kula resident said. "I'll probably shed a couple of shirts as the day goes on."
All things being equal, going up the mountain a thousand feet results in a drop of 3 degrees in the temperature. There are lot of houses with chimneys above 3,000 feet altitude. Wednesday morning, a rancher up around the 5,000-foot level reported a thermometer reading in the 30s. Some of that is due to cold air coming down from the summit where visitors often see temperatures in the 30s and lower, even when it's warm on the coast. The lowest temperature recorded on the summit was 17 degrees on Jan. 2, 1876.
It's a little unusual to be suffering through cold weather in April, depending on how you define "cold."
This year, serious inroads on the stack of split kiawe delivered every year by Mark DeCoite weren't made until the middle of March.
For the last couple of weeks, the fireplace has been put to work in the evening, raising the temperature 10 degrees or so. That's enough to quiet complaints from old bones. Morning fires are rare. It's easier and quicker to go out and sit in the sun or use a space heater to warm icy toes. Adding socks to your slippers, tabi style, also helps.
When the fire is going, the house cat moves around the room in search of just the right temperature as the flames go up and down. His favorite spot is on a stool about four feet from the fireplace. Cats have an uncanny ability to find the warmest spots.
The oldest of the outdoor cats began sleeping in the garage not far from the water heater some weeks ago. Once he found his spot, I rigged a light for some additional heat. As soon as the sun hits the garage doors, the old-timer goes outside. By midday, you'll find him snoozing in some shade.
Cold on Maui? Tourists find it hard to believe. Look at a map. The island is just barely south of the Tropic of Cancer. That puts all of Hawaii in the tropics, but not by much.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired staff writer and editor for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.